How to look after an indoor basil plant – Four simple tips to keep it alive

Dick Strawbridge shares his tip for planting herbs

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Served with a salad or blitzed up to make pesto, basil is a key component of Italian cooking. But rather than purchasing packets of the herb in a supermarket, many opt to grow their own. For those who don’t have a garden, basil can also be successfully grown indoors.

Soil

To grow potted basil, make sure the soil is nutrient-rich and well-drained.

Basil needs to be grown in pots that allow for adequate drainage, as too much water can damage the plant.

As the basil plant grows larger and bushier, it may be necessary to repot the plant too.

Water

Basil plants thrive in moist soil, so make sure to keep the plants hydrated.

During the dry summer months, basil plants will need regular watering.

However, basil does not thrive in over-watered conditions, so be cautious not to do so.

Too much water can cause mould and mildew to form or stems to rot.

Basil plants should ideally be watered before midday, with the morning considered the best time.

Some recommend fertilising a basil plant every four to six weeks with a basil-suitable organic fertiliser.

Some gardening experts also suggest adding the liquid fertiliser at half the recommended strength for potted basil.

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Sunlight

Light is crucial for seedlings to develop into fruitful basil plants.

Basil needs at least six to eight hours of sunlight per day when grown indoors.

So pick a sunny spot on the window sill for a basil plant, preferably with southern exposure.

Aphids

Aphids are a common pest that can cause mould to grow on basil plants, so be vigilant to any which may be feeding on the basil.

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) explains: “Look for colonies of greenfly on the soft shoot tips of plants or on leaves.

“They suck sap and excrete sticky honeydew, encouraging the growth of black sooty moulds.

“Use your finger and thumb to squash aphid colonies or use biological control in the greenhouse.”

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